Trinity College-bound WMA students enjoy keynote address at city conference
When Trinity College Professor Xiangming Chen returned to Wilbraham & Monson Academy for “The City: An Academic Conference” April 4, two of the Academy’s students were particularly interested in his discussion of “Making and Remaking Cities.”
Kirill Gudkon ’14 and Garfield Ding ’14, who both hail from major international cities, were accepted into Trinity in the winter and will attend the elite New England academic institution next school year.
“I was excited about listening to Professor Chen speak again,” said Kirill, of St. Petersburg, Russia. “I remembered him when he came in the fall, when he talked about environmental causes and how cities connect to that. I was glad to see him again, especially with the understanding that he might be my teacher next year.”
Professor Chen was the keynote speaker for WMA’s daylong conference. Garfield served as Professor Chen’s student guide for the day.
“His topic was very interesting,” Garfield said. “I can learn a lot from it, especially since I’m attending college where he teaches and I’ll probably be in his class within the next four years. I’m excited for that.”
As part of his speech, Professor Chen noted how the world’s population is trending out of rural areas and into cities. Garfield, who has lived the majority of his life in Beijing, one of the largest cities in the world, has experienced that trend firsthand.
“In China, the cities are getting bigger and bigger, and the government is transporting people from villages to the cities,” Garfield said. “We call it the biggest migration in the human history: it’s somewhere around a half-billion people. People are changing their lifestyle from countryside to city.”
Kirill agreed with Professor Chen's assessment that a city’s infrastructure “helps humankind to develop and grow, and people use time more efficiently because you spend less time traveling. You can be more efficient in general.”
“Professor Chen did a great job and what he does is very important. He’s working toward that big goal of making cities more efficient with a theoretical approach. As I recall the statistics, more than 50% of the population lives in cities, so that’s 3.5 billion people. We need to think about how to be more efficient, such as how to spend less fuel in cities, and how can we can prevent smog, unemployment and crime. What Professor Chen does is important for us all.”
In return, Professor Chen has enjoyed his recent trips to WMA and recognizes the global work the Academy is doing.
“As the school where the very first student from China, Yung Wing, graduated in the mid-1800s, WMA has become one of a small number of most globally-oriented selective boarding schools in the United States," Professor Chen said. "Having seen a growing number of its students interested in the urban-global programs at Trinity College, I firmly believe that WMA and Trinity College will continue to grow and prosper together through more curricular collaboration in global studies and more WMA graduates coming to Trinity.”